Fast food restaurant collects signatures to delay California labor law

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Sandra Jareghi, center, a fast food worker for 14 years, and other industry workers rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, to demand that fast food companies such as McDonald’s, In-N- Out Burger and Chipotle are dropping their push to repeal Assembly Bill 257, which would create a government-run industry labor council.

pkitagaki@sacbee.com

A restaurant business coalition announced Monday that it has collected enough signatures to challenge a new California law that would create a state-backed labor board to set wages and working conditions for the fast-food industry.

The Save Local Restaurants coalition, which opposes the law, has collected more than 1 million signatures to delay the law and hold a referendum in November 2024.

Counties will now have eight business days to provide the count to the Secretary of State’s office. Opponents need to collect approximately 623,000 valid signatures.

If the grand total reaches the required number, the county will have 30 business days to verify the signatures by random sampling. If there are enough valid voter signatures, the 2024 ballot will include a question on whether the law should go into effect.

It can also lead to a dear battle between organized labor and the fast food industry, with costs running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Save Local Restaurants raised more than $13.7 million between January and September of last year.

The law, known as the FAST Recovery Act, would create the nation’s first labor council to set wages and work standards for fast-food workers. The council’s regulations would apply to any restaurant chain with at least 100 locations in the United States and could set a minimum wage of $22 an hour for fast-casual workers by next year.

The law was set to take effect Jan. 1 after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law last September. But a day later, the opponents announced a referendum on stopping the formation of the council. They argue that the law will lead to higher food prices and a new regulatory burden for franchise owners.

“The FAST Act would have a huge impact on Californians, and it’s clear that voters want a say in whether it should go ahead … it’s no surprise that more than a million Californians have expressed their concerns about the legislation,” the coalition said in a statement. . »

Supporters say the law would give workers a say in regulating a sector of the state economy that employs more than half a million people.

The Service Employees International Union, which supports fast-food workers, said the companies are “trying to silence the voices of half a million black and Latino Americans in order to increase their billions in profits.”

“It’s disgusting that these corporations have already spent millions of dollars trying to deliberately mislead California voters and destroy the progress fast food workers have won,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “California’s referendum process has been completely hijacked by corporations who think they can buy the right to overturn laws they don’t like and absolve themselves of liability.”

In October, SEIU filed complaints with the California attorney general’s office and secretary of state. The union claimed the coalition broke state election rules and “deliberately” misled people to sign the referendum petition. U videos taken by SEIU organizerssignature gatherers can be heard falsely telling people that by signing the petition, they will help raise the minimum wage for workers to $22 an hour.

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Matthew Miranda covers Latino communities for the Sacramento Bee. Matthew has featured contributors in the Chico Enterprise-Record, Richmond Pulse, Oaklandside and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is a native of Los Angeles and the proud son of two Salvadoran immigrants.

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